JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Four-term state representative Timothy Hill will compete in August’s Republican primary for Tennessee’s First Congressional District.
Hill made the announcement Tuesday afternoon at WJHL, saying he has the experience, desire to serve people and social and fiscal conservative bona fides.
“The counties inside of the First Congressional District are generally very Republican, and the question before us is not, ‘will it be a Republican seat?’… The questions becomes, will the seat be conservative?”
“Being conservative, socially conservative, fiscally conservative, I feel like I can be a fantastic voice for the people of the First, and we decided to jump in with both feet.”
Hill, who chairs the House Commerce Committee, demurred when asked if any of his likely primary opponents were not conservative.
“It’s not my job to make that decision,” he said. “That belongs to the people of the first. My perspective is, I’m not running against anyone, I’m running a positive campaign for the seat.”
He said his record in protecting the Second Amendment and in pro-life matters is unimpeachably conservative. “When you’re talking about issues of life it’s not just a vote for me – it’s been a passion for me, protecting life at all stages. My record backs that up in the legislature,” he said, referencing his co-sponsorship of the “Heartbeat Bill” as one example.
Hill, 38, is married and has two sons. He recently divested himself of a restaurant group, Regional Restaurant Partners, but has a business with a concessions contract with Bristol Motor Speedway.
Hill said he has the voters of the Third District to thank for allowing him to build a conservative legislative record and that he greatly values states’ governmental roles “as laid out in the 10th Amendment,” but said he’s ready for a new chapter.
“The federal government has its importance as well as we see with the ongoing response with the coronavirus,” Hill said. “Just like we saw today — here is this gamesmanship and this partisanship when the country is in a position where we really are facing a lot of unknowns and we need to be together, we need to recover together.”
Hill said he didn’t announce earlier because of the work he was doing in the state legislature, which just recessed until June 1.
Hill said he expects an unconventional campaign season due to COVID-19. “Folks’ focus is not who’s running for Congress or who’s running for the state house,” he said. “Their focus is concern about their family and concern about themselves, and it should be.”
He said he’ll continue serving his Third District constituents “and get to the campaign as is appropriate.” That will involve reaching out to people “on an individual basis without the handshake, without the traditional door-knocking, and we’ll just have to see how it goes from there.”
Hill said he will not run for both Congress and his Tennessee House seat, even though that’s permissible. “The easy thing to do would be to have picked up for both … I’m not a career politician, I never set out to be in politics — I see this as an opportunity for service just as I saw my time in Nashville for service. We’ll finish that strong, but what we’re running for is a totally different position, taking the experience that we’ve learned in Nashville, the relationships we built … and really just carrying that forward.”
“We” isn’t completely set yet. Teresa Hicks of Blountville will be Hill’s campaign treasurer. His website is timothyhillforcongress.com. He mentioned Mike Lukach, a consultant who worked as a state director on the Donald Trump 2016 Tennessee effort, as a key player in his campaign. He’s yet to name a campaign chair.
Asked to make a comparison between himself and a fellow state legislator who’s seen by some as one of the stronger candidates in the Congressional field, Hill again demurred.
“The only thing that I would encourage is for people … is look at folks’ record,” Hill said. “Look at their voting record. If I’m willing to sit before you and say that I’m a proven conservative, how did I vote on the gas tax? I voted against it. How did I vote on Medicaid expansion, expansion of Obamacare in Tennessee? I voted against it to protect the citizens of the great state of Tennessee.
“What are some of the things that are some of those huge differences between all the candidates? That’s what I would encourage and we’ve got plenty of time to work through that.”
Hill said he will be “the proven conservative” in the race. “There are some other folks that will say that they’re conservative, but they don’t have the background to prove it. They’ve never taken a vote, so how can you really know? When it comes to social conservative values and fiscal conservative values, I’ve got the record to back up my rhetoric, so that’s going to be my positive push.”
That push will mostly come later, Hill said. “We’re still going to be working to help people primarily get through the coronavirus and the situation that is right on top of us right now, and as we work through that we’ll get to the campaign season as is appropriate.
If he does wind up working on Capitol Hill, Hill said he’d hope to be considered for committee work related to business and commerce, where he said he’s gained a lot of experience in Nashville.
He said he believes eight years in Nashville, “puts me in the best spot to balance constituent services, taking care of people, also with policy we believe is best for individuals, best for the market, best for business — that’s the balance that we want to strike.”